A.J. Burnett pitched seven scoreless innings and Andrew McCutchen made a couple strong defensive plays as the Pirates picked up a much-needed 3-0 win over the Cubs Sunday.
Burnett got a big double play in the second when McCutchen ran in about a hundred feet to make a sliding catch on a fly ball, then threw to first to get Miguel Montero. Burnett, who issued five walks on the day, also got into trouble in the fourth, when the Cubs loaded the bases with a walk, a single and a walk with one out before Burnett stranded all three runners with a strikeout and a fly ball to the warning track. But the Cubs did Burnett favors by getting picked off in the third and by sliding past the base on a steal attempt in the sixth, and McCutchen did Burnett another solid with a great catch going back on Jorge Soler's line drive in the seventh, so Burnett mostly avoided problems other than in that fourth inning. (Burnett, by the way, has a 1.38 ERA this season. Best $8.5 million free agent signing ever!)
It was therefore up to the Pirates offense to bring home a win. We've seen the Bucs' hitters find some awfully creative ways of not doing that these past few weeks, but after some false starts, they delivered today. In the fifth, Josh Harrison hit a bloop double, and Francisco Cervelli slashed an opposite-field single, ultimately getting caught between first and second after Harrison scored.
The Bucs then gave Mark Melancon a nice cushion in the eighth as Cervelli singled, moved up on a sacrifice, and came home on a double by Neil Walker. Andrew McCutchen then walked, and Walker came home as Starling Marte doubled. Melancon put on two runners in the ninth (one on Jung-Ho Kang's throwing error) but hit 91 MPH a few times and kept the Cubs off the board to complete the shutout.